♥ In Wales
Spend a week in Wales and you’ll see why it breeds hard cyclists: Geraint Thomas, Luke Rowe, Owain Doull, Scott Davies, Elinor Barker, Becky James, and Sir David Brailsford, to name a few.
You can’t leave the front door without hitting a string of steep punches, a few mountains, cobbled climbs, and it's usually pissing down with rain. In the words of Brian Holm: “weather doesn’t exist for a good cyclist.”
My grandmother was evacuated to the Elan Valley during the war, when she returned back down South she always said: “I live in England but my heart ♥ is in Wales.” I share my grandmother's sentiment, Swansea is my second home.
I studied at Swansea, met my girlfriend there and made lifelong friends. Swansea’s community spirit is so strong, it's easy to forget what that feels like when you live in London. In twenty minutes you can escape the ‘pretty shitty city’ and get lost in the breathtaking Gower Peninsula, which feels like you’ve gone back in time to a prehistoric world.
When I moved to London, I vowed to visit Swansea every other month, that habit was never going to last and my visits became further apart. It was time to take a trip Home.
I continued my usual routine: Up at 4:30am, coffee, ride, only this time I had Constitution Hill as a ‘warm-up’, a cobbled climb with an average gradient of 20%. If you haven't ridden Constitution Hill I suggest you watch stage three of the 2010 Tour of Britain, Swiss rider Michael Albasini took the stage win, but only a Flandrien would enjoy this cobbled brute.
Swansea 'bergs' are great practice for the Tour of Flanders (Fuck, I broke my promise;)
Constitution Hill, Swansea: Vertical 59m, Average Gradient 20%, Length 0.3 km, Max Gradient 22%
Koppenberg, Oudenaarde: Vertical 64m, Average Gradient 11%, Length 0.6 km, Max Gradient 21.4%
The next item on the menu? Hill reps around Langland and Caswell, my favourite punch being Brynfield Road, a steep little number exiting Langland bay. Once you get out of the towns and villages and onto the Peninsula its non-stop rolling terrain, beautiful land and seascapes, wild horses and sheep, Anglo Saxon churches, castles and farmland leading to my destination, Rhossili.
At the edge of Rhossili lies the Worm's Head, an island shaped like a giant sea-serpent, historically named 'Wurm' meaning 'dragon' by Viking invaders. A stunning piece of geology and the perfect ride destination. Coffee at the Bay Bistro then turn around to climb the descents of the outward journey.
Why did I leave?
Hoogah for post-ride food, coffee (or beer), the hand stretched sourdough pizza is amazing, they also have plenty of Vegan options. Don't leave without a pocket full of their vegan Carrot Cake, its a game changer, I have no idea how they make the frosting so creamy without dairy.
La Braseria on Wind Street for dinner, Its perfect for date night, the Swordfish, Sea Bass, Salmon and Fillet Steak are incredible, and the garlic bread is the best I've ever tasted.
Papi's for lunch in Mumbles (they are big cycling fans), their wood-fired Tricolori pizza was especially good.